What is it?
How much work? Rather a lot, truth be told. Consider that the opening gambit of our road test verdict on the original ‘global’ Ecosport, put upon us in 2014 and built on the same platform as the Fiesta, read: "It’s a been a long time since a new Ford was as bad as the Ecosport".
It wasn’t a judgment we took pleasure in delivering, but the interior felt cheap in a way contrary to the asking price, and when it came to handling and ride, this was a car beset with incurable problems. Flat-footed while at the same time lacking grip, the chassis was criminally under-damped, falling well below the often industry-leading standards set by Ford. Performance was merely adequate at best, too.
Positives were scarce, even if the Ecosport was decently spacious and its raised ride height meant it had a greater wading depth than Land Rover’s all-conquering Defender (we didn’t see that one coming, either).
And so, to the new car, which Ford unsurprisingly sees as something of a fresh start. The cartoonish – ‘cheeky’, Ford calls it – looks remain, although the overall demeanour undoubtedly has a harder edge. The LED daytime running lights are new and frame a large, notably more aggressive grille flanked by piercing headlights. The front and rear bumpers have been tidied up, there are plenty of new paint colours on offer and the designs for the larger wheel options – 17in or 18in – are new (there’s also the option of a boot-mounted spare). In entry-level Zetec trim, the Ecosport still rolls on 16in wheels.
Mechanically, the new Ecosport sports the same basic layout as the original, with a MacPherson strut front axle leading a torsion-beam rear. Ford has, however, now tuned the car ‘specifically for Europeans', so the claim goes. That means the springs, dampers, steering and ESP have been tinkered with to yield – you’d hope – a more composed ride with body control that doesn’t leave you wondering whether Ford has somehow misplaced the engineering staff responsible for satisfyingly sharp Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks.
There are also two major additions for this 2018-spec Ecosport: a new 1.5-litre Ecoblue diesel engine and Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which can adjust the torque split between the axles to the extent that 50% is directed to the rear almost instantaneously. Alas, you can only get the latter of those technologies if you opt for the former, and AWD cars aren't expected to arrive in Ford showrooms until the middle of 2018.
That new engine develops 124bhp and 221lb ft and is joined by a Ford’s older 1.5-litre TDCi oil-burner, which makes 99bhp and, frankly, wasn’t much cop in the old model, with poor mechanical refinement and equally disheartening fuel economy.
But more people will be lining up a petrol model as uncertainty over the future of diesel mounts, and Ford’s much-admired Ecoboost engine is available in two specifications. There's a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit tuned to deliver either 124bhp or – new for the Ecosport - a range-topping 138bhp. Claimed fuel economy is a combined 54.3mpg for both, though equipping the less powerful engine with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox (unavailable on the more powerful car) drops that dramatically to 48.7mpg.